‘Wonderful tradition’: Non-verbal students create, perform annual holiday play

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WATCH: Students from Campus Regina Public's Developmental Center performed an original holiday play for fellow classes using assistive technology. – Dec 20, 2019

In a time-travelling holiday play — featuring dinosaurs and a member of the Bee Gees — anything is possible.

The original production, “Holiday Time Machine“, was created and performed by students who attend the Developmental Center at Campus Regina Public.

“It’s a wonderful tradition in our school,” said Brittany McGeough, an inclusion educator teacher at the center. “People always comment that the Christmas season has really started when we perform our play.”

READ MORE: Santa Claus makes early stop for children with special needs in Regina

Thursday’s matinee, the play’s only showtime, was standing-room-only once curtains parted. Then came the applause and cheers as McGeough introduced each of the student actors, all of whom are non-verbal.

McGeough said through the use of assistive technology, such as one-touch devices with pre-recorded lines, the students take part and perform the play they helped write.

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“Whatever student’s strengths are, we write that in,” she said, noting each role is suited to highlight the performers abilities.

Brittany McGeough displays one type of assistive technology used in an annual holiday play created and performed by students who are non-verbal. Dave Parsons / Global News

McGeough said that when the production started seven years ago, it ran around 10 minutes. This year, the show ran more than a half-hour – incorporating music, dancing and a wide range of characters.

The students also create all the props and set pieces for the show during art classes.

The entire process is about meaningful inclusion, said McGeough, adding the center focuses on supporting students as engaged members of the community.

“You can just put a person in a setting and say, ‘Oh, that’s inclusion,’ but we like to always cover our bases and say, ‘what is meaningful for that person?’ And what strengths are they going to be able to bring to our community.”

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The inclusion educator noted that while there’s still work to be done to support and engage students with different abilities, progress is being made each year.

“Ten years ago, we wouldn’t have seen the inclusivity as we see today,”  she said.

“Especially during the holiday season to see inclusion happening, and the feeling of belonging happening and people being kind to one another based on their strengths and needs.”

This year’s holiday show closed to a resounding standing ovation.

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